Sunday, December 7, 2008

On the Hilarity that is both Prop 8 and the ensuing “Outrage”

So Prop 8 passed in California of all places, that bastion of radical conservatism and religious nutjobs. To hear the uproar from the Left you’d think a Shiite Theocracy had implemented Sharia law on the land, though admittedly that would probably face less protest than say the reading of a Bible passage in a public school class, Islam being so multi-cultural and whatnot; anything but evil Christianity and everything old white men have created (Western Civilization and the modern industrial world come to mind). I couldn’t help but laugh at the ensuing hysteria, especially when the oh-so-awkward news emerged that apparently blacks had voted by a very clear supermajority in its favor. Seems like gay marriage is a change they DON’T believe in. The Messiah administration has not even taken power yet but already we see the special-interest/group politics tearing itself apart. To quote a certain infamous Kazakh international correspondent: Veaery Naaaaice.

Libertarians can learn quite a few things from the passage of Prop 8. For starters, here’s a ballot proposition that was opposed by virtually ALL the “mainstream” media and respectable opinion in California. The political and economic establishment, the media, Hollywood, etc. all closed ranks against it and to state you actually favored the bloody thing would rank you somewhere between Attila and Genghis Khan on the political scale. And yet despite a rabid campaign against it and its depiction as reversing all the progress of the last 1000 years and landing us somewhere in the middle of the Dark Ages Prop 8 passed by over half-a-million Nazi votes. Next time we libertarians are trying to pass some radically insane initiative for balanced budgets, term limits or Heaven forbid abolishing income taxes, we definitely should take note.

Granted, a certain formerly polygamous sect of Christianity based in Utah (hint: rhymes with Norman) helped fund the Yes vote, though the No’s still vastly outraised and outspent them. The gay community was quick to protest this unwelcome intrusion into “their” state and were equally quick to ridicule the church’s former official sexual practices, the irony of a sexual minority seeking “equal” rights ridiculing another formerly persecuted minority being apparently lost on them (where’s Alanis when you need her?).

But I digress. In all the circus surrounding this ridiculous waste of money well spent elsewhere (bottles at One Oak comes to mind) the actual consequences of the banning of same-sex marriage in California remains preposterously non-existent. It’s not like it’s open season on lynching queers in California or anything of the like; in point of fact the average gay American’s yearly income is substantially larger than the average straight American’s income. If anything the American government acts on the behalf of alternative lifestyles against bourgeois/mainstream/Christian morals through laws violating private property rights and the freedom of association. Just try firing someone because they’re gay or try denying someone access to your bar due to their sexual orientation and count the seconds before the ACLU slaps you with a lawsuit. Land of the free indeed.

What of “marriage?” Well, for starters let us take as an intellectual exercise that never-never land of an anarcho-capitalist society in which there is no government. If two people (or three or four) of either the same sex or different sexes find some religious (or secular, let us not be fundamentalists here) organization willing to “marry” them, all power to them. And if they want to walk around saying they’re “married”, quite frankly I don’t give a hoot, as I’m sure most Americans wouldn’t either. And if they want to sign a contract between the two (or three or four) splitting up their property in this way or that in case of “divorce”, or a will in case one dies, or whatever other circumstances I can’t currently fathom, WHAT THE F- DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH ME? Quoth the raven, “absolutely nothing and why are you wasting my time with this nonsense?” Now naturally if the Catholic Church or the Mormon Church or the Spaghetti Monster’s Church chooses to not marry said individuals due to a conflict of morals that’s they’re problem, and the individuals in question can’t show up with guns and tanks and say “marry us or else!” It’s called freedom, look it up sometime. So the religious fundamentalists are basically happy and the people living in sin are happy and we can all pretty much agree to disagree on what we do behind closed-doors.

Enter that glorious institution: The State (cue John Williams’s “The Imperial March”). NOW we have a serious f- problem. The State, especially in a democracy, has this rather nagging tendency to start sticking its nose in every nook and cranny of society and basically annoying the heck out of everyone to the satisfaction of none. So for reasons that defy understanding the State decides that it gets to issue a “marriage” certificate to couples wanting to get married, with some tax and emergency-room consequences. Notice how sans these small consequences two gay men can still live their lives in peace, no problem. And the small tax/emergency-room consequences of marriage are by and large taken care of via civil unions/partnerships.

This is where we get to the crux of the matter: what homosexuals want in California has NOTHING to do with tax benefits or any material consequences of government-certified marriage. What they want is SOCIETAL APPROVAL OF THEIR WAY OF LIFE via the ballot box. And this, my friends, is where the problem lies. Because at the end of the day a free society means that you will have people disagreeing with your choices in life and even morally disapproving of you. And it seems rather obvious that the vast majority of Americans are ok with people being gay in their private lives but don’t want their traditional definitions of marriage being torn to pieces via government fiat. The fact that virtually every ballot initiative regarding same-sex marriage has turned out “against” it and that the gay community (much like abortion activists) have had to resort to the courts to enforce their pseudo-“rights” should be evidence of that.

Libertarians should always be in favor of liberty (which is to say property), but it is a far cry from that to say we ought to be moral-relativists. In fact, given that the vast majority of society has some pretty strong moral opinions on a whole host of topics, to present libertarianism as some sort of wishy-washy relativistic philosophy will forever mean the absolute denial of libertarian principles by the great majority of the people. The way forward for freedom is not to convince the American people that their morals/religion/culture is stupid, but rather to show them that within a libertarian framework they will be allowed to exercise those morals in a much freer fashion than under a government. The government is the ENEMY of their way of life, be it Christian, gay, nerd, jock, Night Elf or Orc.

As for the LGBT community, I would implore you to reconsider your approach to the issue. Recognize that the real enemy to your way of life is the State; insofar as you wish to fight the State I will gladly fight alongside of you, however much we might differ regarding personal morals. Any wide-scale assault on your person and property will necessarily come via government, so “that government is best which governs least,” to quote Paine. However, the second the gay community sacrifices the principles of liberty and attempts to use the powers of government to enforce mainstream acceptance of their way of life they open Pandora’s box. It is, beyond being immoral and unconstitutional, incredibly stupid: how long do you honestly believe it will be before the vast majority of people who disagree with you start to use the democratic process against you? To start cracking down on your person and property? Will you THEN realize the importance of principle and liberty? Will you only THEN decide that government is indeed the “One Ring” that would destroy those who would decide to use it?

My humble advice: stop freaking out about Prop 8 and start freaking out about a monstrously bloated, bureaucratic, powerful, hungry, murderous, taxing, warmongering, all-consuming, unbound Leviathan.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Round up the Usual Suspects, or: How the Free Market got blamed for the Economic Crisis

So they somehow managed to pull it off. Despite years of warning from Austrian Economists, despite the hard work of libertarians across the web and academia, despite us actually having a candidate in one of the main presidential-primary debates (RON PAUL!) talking about these issues in a consistent fashion to the American people, despite the plethora of 90 years of evidence pointing elsewhere *cough * FED * cough*, despite Peter “Cassandra” Schiff ranting on CNBC for over two years about the coming debacle and correctly blaming the federal government and its agencies for this even as the bullish commentators there literally LAUGHED at him, despite ALL of this… they managed to get mainstream American opinion to blame the free market for the economic crisis.

I take my hat off to them. I mean, really, it takes cojones the size of the budget deficit to even think of trying to pull something of THIS magnitude, let alone actually succeeding. What a virtuoso performance. Granted, they did have most of the mainstream media on their side, not to mention the vast majority of both political parties, lending new credence to the notion that the Republicans are the stupid party and the Democrats the evil party and that every now and then they decide to do something both stupid AND evil in the spirit of bipartisanship (BAILOUT!).

But the gall of this performance is actually quite frightening. I seem to remember some fairly popular German leader of the 20th century mentioning something about big lies being swallowed more easily than little ones by the people, but you really never see it coming. The way ALL respectable opinion circled the wagons when under assault by evil apaches firing off arrows of RIPOFF and SHAME ON YOU to protect the “bailout” plan all the while claiming it was for our own good. The way so-called “free marketers” like the Maestro joined hands with rabid frothing at the mouth socialists (a.k.a. Democrats) in assigning blame to a lack of government oversight and regulation. The way Wall Streeters who SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER instantly began begging for the Federal Government to do something, anything, just for the love of John Maynard Keynes throw us a lifeline to save us from our own stupidity and mistakes. The way the pseudo-Right-Wing party (a.k.a. Republican) instantly gave up on its supposed free market credentials all the while claiming to be passing trillions of dollars of new spending and government intervention TO SAVE THE FREE MARKET. God, they even gave Paul “I’m a hack” Krugman the Nobel Prize as a final “F- You!” to us (thus challenging my previous ranking of “great moments in Nobel History” with Antonio “just cut out their brain” Moniz and Al “let’s end Western Civilization because I don’t want to take off my sweater” Gore at the top). The sheer gall of it… it’s a beautiful sight to behold, it really is. Were this performance on at the Lincoln Center I’d give it a resounding two-thumbs up before jumping off the balcony in sheer desperation into the doubtlessly standing ovation of the crowd below.

So, once more for the cheap seats in the back, let us yet again go through the motions, as useless as they maybe and as futile as the effort seems:

1- The (unconstitutional) FED expands the monetary supply and manipulates interest-rates in a failed bid to defy economic laws, thus causing malinvestment in an artificial boom... something Mises and Hayek wrote about over SEVENTY years ago and Hayek actually won a Nobel Prize for (after the more intransigent Mises had conveniently died the previous year of course… those sneaky Swedish Central Bankers!).

2- The Federal Government through the Community Reinvestment Act as well as a whole host of regulations and outright threats of civil-rights lawsuits pressures/forces financial institutions to lend to minorities/lower-income classes with little regard to credit, thus allocating capital not on the basis of economic efficiency but rather political expediency, all to the applause of Jesse Jackson, The New York Times and “community activists”.

3- The Federal Government (noticing a pattern here?) intervenes in MASSIVE fashion in the mortgage market to the tune of, get this, TRILLIONS of dollars through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the like, institutions so well-run they make Enron look like a model of corporate responsibility; this once again distorts the market to an inordinate degree with the added benefit of exposing taxpayers to debts Banana Republics would blush at.

4- The Federal Government (getting old isn’t it?) backed system of fractional-reserve banking *cough* FRAUD *cough* spirals out of control, with the taxpayer having to foot the bill as usual in the name of “market stability” and “saving capitalism from itself” (the latter one literally made me throw up a little in my mouth as I typed it).

5- On a more general level, the fiscal and current-account deficits of the United States, the high levels of taxation, government expenditures/regulations/interventions/tariffs, entitlement programs in the hole to the tune of SEVENTY TRILLION dollars (now THAT’S a Great Society!), and by and large ripping contracts to pieces on an ex-post facto basis and running roughshod over property rights: yeah, that’s a real FREE market…

In my rush and fury it is quite likely I missed a couple (hundred) other points of interest regarding our supposed “free market” and its blame for the present crisis. So the next time you’re watching the Daily Show and Stewart makes another snide remark about how this crisis has demonstrated the inherent flaws of capitalism, or if you’re flipping through channels and accidentally end up on MSNBC (poor thing) with Keith “my self-importance might collapse into a black hole of idiocy” Olbermann talking about how Obama should use his “mandate” to substantially increase the powers of the federal government, just do what I do and throw your controller as hard as you can at the screen. Trust me, it will give you tremendous satisfaction as well as being a heck of a cardio work-out. Don’t worry, you can rest assured in the notion that this has not been the first time they’ve pulled off such a frame job (see Great Depression and our previous “Messiah” and “5 out of 5 Presidential historians consider ‘great’ president”: FDR) and it certainly won’t be the last.

At the end of the day though, talking about all these problems in a vacuum is a bit silly, somewhat akin to getting run over and blaming the car as opposed to the inebriated coked-up 15-year old inside. The REAL question is WHY? Why did all of these problems occur? How is it that “our” government allowed it to happen? To claim that it was all “Bush’s” fault and “had so-and-so been in power this never would have happened” is to miss the forest for the trees.

I’m going to ruin the who-dunnit mystery here and say: it was not Professor plum, in the library, with the wrench. Rather, it was Democracy, in DC, with the legitimacy and power granted to it by the people. The problem, so to speak, lies in our democratic system of government: Democracy as a system for choosing our political leaders is incompatible in the long-run with a free-market, free-institutions and a free-people. Democracy inevitably leads to socialism. Democracy is inherently totalitarian in its nature and a democratic government WILL eventually move in on families, religious organizations, the market, clubs, private associations, marriage, your sex life, your children’s education, your jobs, what you eat, what you do or don’t smoke/snort/inject/swallow, what you can say and how, how people we’ve never met across the globe should act, etc. And anyone who says the contrary and talks about the possibility of reconciling “limited” government and democracy, or how we just need to “educate” people so they vote properly, or how people have a “right” to vote, or how democracy is responsible for our freedoms is either lying, borderline retarded or higher than the Mad Hatter traveling through the K-hole after binging on Special K while listening to old Pink Floyd records.

Cato the Elder, a statesman of the Roman Republic, was fond of ending all his speeches, regardless of topic of discussion, with Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam: Moreover, I advise that Carthage must be destroyed. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that while it probably didn’t make him very popular at parties it was an effective tool of rhetoric. The fact of the matter is, if we are to truly live in a free and prosperous society we need to start challenging anyone who dares blame the free market for the current economic debacle. When at a party and some jackass starts quoting what he just read in the Huffington Post about the endogenous cyclicality of capitalism, calmly down your drink, approach him and either do an old Glaswegian head butt to the nose followed by a swift kick to the balls (or general groin area, let us not be sexist here) or start patiently deconstructing his third-grade arguments down: the federal government landed us in this mess, NOT the free market, and the free market, NOT the government, is the quickest way out. Remember, you have the convenient advantage in this debate to be arguing for the RIGHT side. It might be an idea to arm yourself with some Rothbard or Mises first, conveniently located at or You can furthermore start quoting Hoppe and make even the modal-libertarians in the room uncomfortable.

And if you REALLY want to be cool, after thoroughly ruining the mood of the party and several friendships and doing a slow-motion walk away, casually say over your shoulder: Moreover, I advise that Democracy must be destroyed.

Friday, December 5, 2008

An Undercover Libertarian on Election Night in NYC

As I polished off the last slice of my Domino’s pizza (enthusiastic Two for Tuesday follower) what paltry hopes I had for a McCain underdog victory were rapidly dissipating. Yes, I know that as a libertarian or heck, even as a “true” conservative I should hate McCain and the warfare/welfare state he represents. Nevertheless, to quote the great Matt Stone of Southpark fame, “I hate conservatives, but I REALLY f------ hate liberals.” Sentiments I must confess to sharing to a t.

The fact of the matter is that after a lifetime of disillusionment with politics the Ron Paul phenomenon had threatened to “cure my apathy” as I found myself actually canvassing, attending Meet-up Groups and going door to door, all phenomena I had previously ascribed to the mentally deranged. But the Lord giveth and He taketh away, and we were left with the prospect of opting betwixt Obama and McCcain. Yes, yes, we can always pull that Third Party lever and feel smugly self-satisfied that we had not played along with pathetic charade that the Two-Party system has become (always has been?). Or maybe take the more principled high road and not vote at all, and thus not have to lament “don’t blame me I voted for Kodos!” as we toil away in our chain gang (income tax) and Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr furiously punch through their tophats.

The reality of the situation though is that either the Fascist or the Socialist was going to win, and that was that. As Rothbard stated in the run-up to the ’92 election, he wouldn’t be VOTING for either candidate, but he could certainly ROOT for one of them as better, or certainly less bad for liberty. Of course, it turned out that within the self-cannibalistic libertarian community, even claiming to root for a candidate has its dangers as Rothbard was quick to discover upon revealing his slight preference (or lesser distaste) for a Bush administration vis a vis a Clinton one.

And I just couldn’t bring myself to believe that McCain could possibly be worse for liberty than Obama. For starters, McCain is old and likely to die… hard to cause much damage from beyond the grave (though DiLorenzo would probably have a thing or two to say to about that regarding Lincoln). Furthermore, an analysis of the issues revealed to me that while Obama is bad at… well, everything, McCain would be marginally better on taxes and judges (or so one can hope). Thirdly, McCain would be facing a Democratic majority in Congress and boy do I love it when the parties bicker and leave me a tiny bit of my paycheck and liberty. And lastly and arguably most importantly, McCain does not make me want to blow my brains out every time he speaks with admiring throngs and crowds beholden to his every last word, weeping as their savior has arrived and earnestly believing that all their woes will be solved by some political candidate like Arthur returned from Avalon to restore the West to its former glory and make sure they won’t have to pay their mortgages, gas bills or anything for that matter as the hard-learned laws of economics will be suspended and because we supported him he will support us and milk and honey will fall from the sky amidst hosannas.

But I digress.

So there I am, with John Daniels (he may be Jack to you, but not when you’ve known him as long as I have) looking increasingly appealing on my bedside table as The One is racking up state after state and exit polls look increasingly dim. Just as the prospect of 8 years of populist demagogic rhetoric and a New Deal Squared sink in and I reach for my bottle and decide to start getting serious about cirrhosis my cellular rings. It’s a young libertarian friend of mine--an NYU student (the poor thing), he’s decided to head over to Times Square to see the madness. I figure, what the heck, with any luck someone will flip over a car onto me and put me out of my misery. My flatmate, knowing my so-called “crazy” conservative/libertarian political views, thinks I’m insane and says he will most definitely NOT be bailing me out of jail if I do get arrested for head-butting some overly enthusiastic Obama supporter. I promise him I will not drink and will use all of my limited restraint to keep my fists and forehead to myself.

Approaching the NYU dorms on Washington Square Park, the madness has begun to take over already. The omnipresent drug dealers in the park are taking a break from their usual hushed whispers of “I got coke” to discuss their candidate's victory as shouts can be heard above from the pathetic rooms of what pains me to call our future. When my friend emerges from the dorms, he decides to join in on the fun, screaming “OBAMA!!!” to every passerby who more often than not join in and hug him. Occasionally he risks a bit of satire, screaming, "Obama! Milk and Honey will Flow!"

There is something contagious about a people spontaneously celebrating anything, whether it be a World Cup victory, a Lakers World Series win or the continued destruction of Western Civilization. Alas, my bitter heart won’t allow me to participate with equal fervor in the madness, but I decide to tag along as a crowd of Hitler Jugend students all head to the subway and thence the belly of the beast: Times Square.

The subway ride proves rather eventful, with some verses of We Shall Overcome. Interestingly enough, an elderly black man is sitting with his wife in the cart and most decidedly not joining in on the festivities with something approximate to a scowl on his face as the students and fellow New Yorkers dance, sing and clap in the cart. I think to myself this man has most likely lived through REAL racism of the water hose and angry dogs variety and to see a bunch of spoiled brats celebrating the election of some politician as anything meaningful in the real world simply due to the color of his skin must strike him as something ironic.

Nevertheless, just as I start wishing something were to happen to the subway train of the explosive variety we arrive at our destination. Right off the bat as we emerge from the stairs onto 42nd Street and 8th Avenue it is evident that we were clearly not the only ones to think of heading towards Times Square, or as I now like to refer to it, the 9th Circle of Hell. Hordes upon hordes are appearing from all sides as we soon find ourselves pressed in like sardines or teeny-boppers at the latest Hannah Montana concert. I start looking around at the people around me, and after extensive polling and analysis break it up into the following demographics: 10% Hispanic, 40% black, 80% young, and 100% insane. A Star Wars quote comes to mind: “this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause.”

The Square has a large Fox News screen strategically positioned above the military recruitment center (I see they still haven’t adopted my “more fresh meat for the grinder” motto, but time will tell). I remark to my friend that I have seldom seen a more depressed group of people. I told him Charles Krauthammer looked in a state of shock. He told me Charles Krauthammer is actually paralyzed. I feel a twinge of remorse, but then think about all the thousands of wounded soldiers coming back from the wars Krautboy supported, boys who will never be able to see, or walk, many who will never be able to lead plentiful lives again, and all who will never forget the horrors of war, to say nothing of the thousands dead on “our” side and the hundreds of thousands dead on the “other” side and I summarize my feelings of Chuck with an off-the-cusp “f--- him.” Brit Hume, meanwhile, is holding himself up remarkably well, though his is a more traditional and realistic brand of conservatism that is surely used to disappointments and this “Valley of Tears” that is human existence.

Some punks decide it would be a bright idea to climb onto a nearby phone-booth, though the cops soon start shouting through bullhorns for them to descend. It is all for naught though as a fresh batch of unwarned punks have the same bright idea, and after a to and fro lasting roughly 20 mins the cops give up and yield the phone-booth turf. The terrorists, apparently, have won. One remarkably bright individual, surely a future Rhodes Scholar, climbs a street lamp pole and starts kicking the “Don’t Park” sign to the tune of “YES WE CAN” as the crowd joins in. I try and restrain my self-destructive tendencies and manage not to shout out “RON PAUL 08,” figuring there are better ways to go than being beaten to death up by rabid ACLU members. Let them have their moment.

A hush soon descends upon the crowd though as the Megascreen reveals The Uniter, The One, He of the Eloquent Speech, The Silver Tongue and the Incredible Jump-Shot appearing to a crowd of what seems to be roughly 50 million people in Chicago to deliver God’s new commandments to the worshipful throngs below. The Promise of America! Out of Many One! A Perfected Union! Yes We Can!

Remarkably, just as he started to speak though, He began to weep as rain fell from the sky… and I find this gives me some measure of comfort as I am reminded of the transcendent God to whom we all must eventually answer. My mind soon wanders off to works of fiction, as it is often want to do. I think of myself as Frodo and Sam in orc disguise in Mordor, all hope apparently lost, tired of fighting Galadriel’s “Long Defeat.” Every year seems to bring with it more destruction, more war, more socialism, more regulation, more spending, more taxes, more cultural degradation, more sexual immorality and deviance, more more more more. And I remember an exchange Gandalf and Pippin have as the Forces of Darkness are moving in, apparently unstoppable:

Pippin: I didn’t think it would end this way.

Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path… One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… and then you see it.

Pippin: What? Gandalf? See what?

Gandalf: White shores…. And beyond, a far green country, under a swift sunrise.

Pippin: (smiling) Well, that isn’t so bad.

Gandal: (softly) No… it isn’t.

Mises never gave up. He saw far worse than we have and stuck to the motto he had taken from Virgil: Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito. Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it. And so, when the madness had ended (for now) and I had arrived at my home remarkably safe and sound having heeded my flatmate’s admonitions, I found myself faced with two choices. The bottle of JD sat at my table, tempting as always, beckoning me to numb the inner pain. My computer though, with an old (and remarkably apropos) Matrix code screensaver running down its screen seemed to me far more tempting. And I decided, in my own small way, to strike a small blow for liberty by sitting down and writing for the first time in as long as I can remember, chronicling my rather surreal experience of the night. And who’s to say if there is not some member of the Remnant out here who can find some degree of solace in the notion that amidst the celebrating Left-Wing crowds he witnessed on TV at Times Square was a lowly, dejected, depressed libertarian who will never give up the fight and will never surrender. And if among THAT crowd there was a libertarian… well, surely there is some hope after all.